15 years appears like both a actually long time and none in any appreciate, pondering how significant became filled into them. In the 15 years since I first performed Mount & Blade, there is miniature that hasn’t changed in video games, and yet it peaceable has just just a few divulge opponents aside from its hold sequels.
It additionally appears like 15 years since Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord entered Early Derive entry to in late March 2020. In the intervening time, it felt a long way too leaky to write conclusively about. Even after some urgent patching, I had too many reservations to give it more than a “wait and appreciate” recommendation. But how’s it attempting now?
Properly. It be positively better. And yet it peaceable offers me disquiet.
Let’s be rational, and salvage into consideration Bannerlord’s supreme problems at birth: its plethora of technical elements. Identifying and fixing these is half the point of an early net admission to period, but for a recreation whose pattern started in 2012, it became in a heart-broken train for a good deal of avid gamers. Crashes were frequent, as were less severe bugs and annoyances. I became lucky ample to withhold a long way from most of that, but its performance, and particularly loading times, were dire.
That’s now not the case. Bannerlord now runs a hell of loads closer to how any recreation of its dimension must peaceable. After a twelve months of patches that’s now not regularly pleasing, alternatively it be peaceable a reduction. The loading times in explicit are dramatically better. Where as soon as a elephantine minute of ready may per chance per chance bookend every fight, there is now a mere moment or two on the device in. Coming abet out of a fight may per chance per chance peaceable be better, alternatively it be short ample now to shrug off, rather than actively discouraging me from doing anything that would pause in violence. Beforehand, even a conversation with an NPC would destroy time loading a elephantine 3D scene, but now we merely net their persona model on a static background (which has the bonus aspect halt of making life moderately of more effective for modders) in most instances.
There are peaceable noticeable delays here and there, particularly on stock and armed forces/prisoner management screens, and I’d place a question to to eye additional improvements before a 1.0 liberate, but the variation is big. Overall performance, alternatively, is peaceable lacking. I’ve always became the difficulty down in Mount & Blade in characterize to crank up the fight sizes. I even dilapidated “how many M&B stabmen can it handle” as my litmus test for PC upgrades, so it be disappointing that my typically ample machine peaceable suffers distracting choppiness and input jog in trim skirmishes, even with most alternatives dialled down.
Whereas the AI appears moderately of more progressed than the distinctive’s, I have not seen an enhance price sacrificing both graphical outcomes and the spectacle and anxiety of better fight scenes. The AI additionally continues to strive against with sieges, and I’ve bought moderately drained of breaking down a gate and main the payment easiest to flip spherical and peer 200 allied infantrymen stand spherical doing nothing, typically straight away subsequent to their very hold siege ladders. Battles peaceable plonk you down entirely blind, even in a siege camp you’re going to need supposedly lived in for a fortnight, and its tactical interface is peaceable cumbersome ample that I seldom bother with more than “archers stand there” and “all individuals payment” – and even which will lead to ordering something entirely a quantity of if I forget what button I pressed six listless horsemen within the past.
Some disappointed fans agree with criticised the recreation for being typically the identical recreation again, easiest fancier. I save now not think that’s exclusively honest, alternatively it be now not exclusively erroneous both. Bannerlord innovates on the more managerial stage, and leans into facets that emphasise main a clan, be it one among real noble vassals or entrepreneurial retailers. You may per chance per chance per chance per chance also ship your special ‘companion’ characters off as honest sub-armies or subcontract aspect jobs out to them, net married, beginning heirs and spawn a dynasty. As a vassal your strive against and job success earns affect internal the kingdom, spendable on swaying the ruler and other nobles to save or abandon explicit political insurance policies.
Now that named NPCs are mortal (Warband’s may per chance per chance easiest ever be knocked out, with total conquest merely flipping their loyalty to the recent boss) and recent ones generated over time, there is more sense of life and dynamism to the enviornment, and more refined methods to steer it. The levelling gadget has been improved moderately of, more perks genuinely raise out something, and companions now plan at the least some skill. The early recreation peaceable feels constricting thanks to the ‘renown’ gadget limiting your alternatives till you grind up ample looters (there are different routes, but let’s be upright with ourselves about what we’re in this for), but working up the ranks does truly feel more fulfilling this capability that.
The villages and towns of that world are more attention-grabbing too, being both prettier and more architecturally various. But I peaceable don’t appreciate significant point in visiting them in particular person. Sure, I will slump spherical a market or coast true into a village to suppose to a native craftsman. I will play board video games with the king. But I’ve by no device felt the urge to bother more than as soon as.
To its credit ranking, Bannerlord doesn’t force any of that on you, and offers a easy menu with divulge net admission to to any predominant possibility from the plan conceal. But that more or less makes it truly feel like Taleworlds are placing a good deal of their work into issues I’ll by no device bother with. It be a strive against recreation whose one-on-one preventing is oldschool fashioned within the wake of Chivalry and Mordhau. It be a feudalism simulator that Crusader Kings 3 can roll over and crush in its sleep (and easiest marginally more inexpensive than CK3 at £40), and it be an RPG that easiest truly changes what the of us you destroy are defending themselves with.
But then, the place else can you net all of that collectively? I may per chance per chance now not truly feel very invested within the explicit kingdoms or worlds (I raise out like the Battanian model, and their three cities ringing a mountainous lake, but I couldn’t expose you a single persona’s name), but they raise out provide the context desired to plan just a few of these battles truly feel dramatic and rewarding to be pleased. The aspect jobs may per chance per chance appear more anguish than they’re price to me, but the enviornment would truly feel deader without them, and rarely they flip me a massive revenue or occur to immoral wires with something else I am doing in an keen device. And there is peaceable the promise of additional improvements, like a successfully active prison underworld, and a “roguery” centered play model to agree with interplay with it.
I am peaceable struggling to plan up my mind, is what I am announcing. Bannerlord has improved a massive deal on a technical stage, there is more to it than its predecessors, and it be as stress-free because it ever became to feck a javelin at a nobleman’s horse and peer his doomed tumble into your gang of frothing axemen. But the longer I play Bannerlord, the more I think of it by device of what more it would per chance be. Possibly that’s unfair. It be absolutely more stunning to play than it dilapidated to be, but I peaceable can not suggest it outright, and I suspect I’d now not know how I truly feel about it till it be achieved.